Is it safe to vacation at high altitude during pregnancy?

Is it safe to vacation at high altitude during pregnancy?

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It depends on the location and how you respond.

At high altitudes, less oxygen is available to you, which means you'll tire more easily. It also means your baby will get less oxygen, which can negatively affect growth and development.

To be safe, avoid staying at altitudes at or higher than 8,500 feet above sea level for more than a few days. (Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level and would probably be fine, for example; but Pikes Peak, at more than 14,000 feet above sea level, might not be safe.)

Women respond differently to high altitudes during pregnancy. If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, are huffing and puffing, or have headaches, you can assume your baby is probably not getting enough oxygen, either. If this happens to you (even at altitudes below 8,500 feet), hop in the car and drive to a lower altitude. And if you still don't feel well after you descend, seek medical care.

Some pregnant women should be especially careful when traveling to high altitude locations. If you have hypertension, preeclampsia, or any other high-risk pregnancy condition, high altitudes may make your condition worse. Talk with your healthcare provider before making travel plans.

As for women who live at high altitudes (8,500 feet and higher), they adjust to the "thinner" air, but their babies do tend to be smaller than babies born at lower altitudes. And although most of these babies are healthy, pregnant women living at higher altitudes are at greater risk of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, both of which raise the risk of serious complications during pregnancy and for their newborn babies.

Learn more about altitude sickness.

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